Zardari and Singh Meet


President Zardari and PM Singh meet at the 2009 BRIC Summit in Russia

President Zardari and PM Singh met one-on-one yesterday at the BRIC summit in Russia. While this was a short, preliminary meeting, it holds promise for more fruitful dialogue and cooperation between the two powers.

The US State Department called the the meeting "encouraging," and noted that cooperation between the two nations is important to progress in matters of economics and security.

“A resumption of such high-level engagement in the aftermath of the November Mumbai attacks is encouraging,” State Department Spokesman, Ian Kelly told reporters Tuesday when asked to comment on the two leaders’ meeting on the sidelines of the Yekaterinburg summit.

“We have said before that India and Pakistan need to continue their dialogue to find joint solutions against terrorism and to promote regional stability,” he said.

Dr. Singh noted the importance of the meetings, and the potential for the two leaders to work together to bring increased stability and prosperity to their countries.

In line with his remarks to Parliament in Delhi last week, Dr. Singh told Mr. Zardari that he was all for resumption of talks and that there was a vast untapped potential to the bilateral relationship that had so far remained untapped by the dialogue process, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters.

While the fruits of increased cooperation between Pakistan and India are many, the topic on most people’s minds was, of course, the ongoing fight against militants. The Indian Prime Minister told President Zardari that Pakistan’s efforts against Talibani extremists was vital, to which Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi noted the Pakistani government’s serious and increased efforts to eradicate terrorism.

“We in Pakistan are victims of terrorism, our people and our economy are affected, and we as a people have decided to deal with this in a decisive manner.” The Pakistani government has moved “in a very effective manner and there has been a lot of internal dislocation,” [Foreign Minister Qureshi] said, referring to the more than two million civilians who have fled the Swat valley since major military operations began last month. “We are paying a price but it is a price worth paying.”

President Zardari later yesteday said that Taliban is the biggest threat not only to the region, but to the world, and that “defeat is not an option.”

He said the war against Taliban has just started. “Democracy has given the ownership and is fighting the war.”

He said the government, the army, the people and the nation is determined to fight the war.

“Defeat is not an option for us,” he added.